By the Philippine News Agency and Francis Wakefield
Russia is keen on selling the Philippines its Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines, which has surface displacement of 2,350 tons, a length of 73.8 meters and capable of speeds up 17 to 20 knots, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed Thursday.
“If the Philippines has no money to buy its first-ever submarine, Russia is more than willing to provide the country ‘soft loans’ to acquire the specialized underwater craft,” Lorenzana added.
“Soft loan” refers to financing with no interest or below market rate of interest.
The Kilo-class submarines can be armed with a variety of torpedoes, missiles and naval mines and has a cruising range of around 6,000 to 7,500 nautical miles.
Lorenzana revealed the President wanted to buy two submarines from Russia and is also looking at South Korea as another source.
In the ASEAN region, Vietnam is known to operate six improved Kilo-class submarines in its fleet.
Lorenzana said the country is still looking at other possible submarine suppliers in Europe, including France, noting that the country’s submarine acquisition program, including possible suppliers, will be most likely finalized in the next 12 months.
“If this is approved, it will take them four years to make it, so it would be delivered after the term of the President,” Lorenzanaadded.
For an island nation like the Philippines, its defense can be considered incomplete without a fleet of submarines, the defense chief noted and an effective active submarine force is a great deterrent for would be aggressors due to its capability to travel underwater, giving it the element of surprise.
Russian Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir IvanovichKorolev, earlier assured that Russia will support the upgrade program of the Philippine Navy (PN) in terms of training, maintenance, and sustainment of future acquisition particularly its submarine acquisition project.
Following the Navy’s successful testing of its first Spike-ER surface-to-surface missile onboard the Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) MKIII Thursday at the vicinity of Lamao Point, Limay, Bataan, Lorenzana said the government is acquiring more missiles as the Navy buys more vessels in the future.
The actual live missile firing was reportedly necessary to test, inspect and accept the weapons and its systems in accordance with the contract for the final acceptance of the system.
Likewise, part of the defense shopping list are six off-shore patrol vessels which will be built in Balamban, Cebu, by Austal, a subsidiary of Austal in Australia.
The defense chief said details on how much the country will spend for the construction of the off-shore patrol vessels is still unknown as the contract has yet to be finalize.